Exercising American liberties at Women’s March


From an early age I assumed the position of contrarian. I hated when my brothers would tell me I could not do something, and I proceeded with rage to go out of my way to prove them wrong—even in the few instances they were right. I hated being told concrete things I could and could not do, and I hated complacency. Needless to say, I found my niche on Jan. 21 as me and 10,000 of my new friends marched in solidarity through the streets of St. Louis to protect the rights of women.

My passion for the cause was not accidental. I was raised by a combination of strong, independent women and men who supported them. I am not too inept to understand that both were important. One was often dependent on the other. I have generations of role models to inspire my art, thoughts and actions, and I am grateful for their guidance. Even though I was the only member of my family to march in St. Louis, I had family marching in Chicago, Washington D.C., Seattle and Paris, and I am rather proud of our range. Without their support I would not be the feminist I am today.

By college student standards, the walk was early. I rolled out of bed tired and groggy wishing I could sleep a little longer. It was not until I was outside getting ready to walk to the Grand Metro Station that I truly felt I was about to make a difference. A group of older women were exiting the Laclede parking garage when one of them stopped and turned to my friend and I. After noticing our signs, she thanked us for being young feminists, elucidating how we lost a few between our generations. She continued on with her friends, leaving us teary-eyed and ready to take on the day. It was a helpful reminder that what we were about to do was not some silly, millennial complaining but part of a long history of tradition. These women fought and gained rights I enjoy today. I can only hope that my efforts will do the same for future generations.

Somewhere between being crammed into a metro car filled with fellow marchers and slowly marching down the street chanting and chatting with whoever was near, I started to feel like an American. I felt like a truer member of democracy than any other time in my life, save for my first experience voting in an election. It was incredible. Living in a nation as big as the U.S., it is easy to lose sight of one’s place in the country. Sure, taking pride in a family, community, city or state role is easy. As is finding hope in an ideal or belief. But there were few times in my life where I truly felt like I was playing a role in the nation. The Women’s March was one of those times, and it was utterly grounding.

This country is my home, and like any home there are times when it needs to be tidied up. Sometimes the dishes get piled up or mud gets tracked in after a rainy day, and sometimes a wild party gets out of hand, causing a tremendous mess. It is our responsibility to clean up after ourselves and perhaps more importantly to help clean up the messes that other people made without being asked.

That is how the best households run. They share messes and responsibilities, and in return, they share resources and privileges. Drawing from this metaphor, a child would not be expected to take on a huge responsibility like cleaning the gutters on their own. It would be dangerous and unrealistic. Likewise, a healthy parent cannot expect to get away with doing nothing but taking out the trash every once in awhile. Responsibilities are heavily reliant on a person’s capacity. We cannot all do everything, but we can all do something.

In an ideal world, our country could run like this. If everyone did what they could to improve our nation, it would be a nicer place to live in. It was easy for me to get up and march in this walk. Walking down a street, holding a sign and cheering on my fellow women are all things that are well within my capacity. Broken down in this way it seems all too simple, and yet I know that these marches that took place all over the world made a difference. I know exercising our rights as U.S. citizens, no matter how big or how small, is a fundamental part of living in a democracy. It just goes to show what a little tidying up can do.